Whenever a celebrity couple splits, the media make a fuss over the citation of “irreconcilable differences” in the divorce paperwork. What does this mean? In California, there are three “grounds” for divorce: irreconcilable differences, fraud, and bigamy (having more than one spouse). Fraud not only is hard to prove, but the kinds of fraud are limited in California, and bigamy does not come up too often. So any couple wanting to divorce is generally going to be in the “irreconcilable differences” category.
Irreconcilable differences essentially means that your problems are so big in your marriage that you can’t fix them, even with counseling or other outside help.
In reality, the court doesn’t much care why you want to get divorced. This is why, when my clients want to tell me about affairs and cheating and what s/he did, I have to tell them that it doesn’t really matter for the court case (save substance abuse & domestic violence when there’s children involved). I also tell me clients that, when they’re hung up on what happened and who did what to whom (and really, who isn’t fairly obsessed with that during a divorce?), then they should get themselves to counseling as soon as they can. Most therapists are far cheaper than I am on an hourly basis, and they’re trained to help someone with the emotions of divorce…while I am not.
So the next time you see someone talking about “irreconcilable differences,” you’ll know that this just means the couple doesn’t want to be married to each other anymore.